Tuesday, 1 May 2018

May 2018: our precious eyesight

Our precious eyesight

We don’t normally realize how precious our eyes are, until we get trouble. Short sight, far sight, those are easily dealt with. But what about cataracts, glaucoma, and the feared macular degeneration?
Every so often, another piece appears in the papers about how scientists have
invented a clever way to deal with one or another of these. But even so, and till some of these miracle cures have become mainstream, prevention is still best. 
There are lots of things we can do for ourselves. Good food is always a very important one, which also happens to improve our health in other respects.

To prevent yourself from getting eye problems, or to alleviate them once you’ve got trouble, it is important to include the following in your diet. 
Lutein and zeaxanthin: in eggs (free range), coloured fruit, leafy green, spinach, kale, collard greens, cos, broccoli, sweetcorn, peas, Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, orange peppers, pistachio nuts, grapes.
Carotenoids are plant pigments responsible for bright red, yellow, orange and dark green hues: in for instance carrots, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red capsicums and oranges.
Vitamin A/beta-carotene: liver, egg; fruits/veg (carrots, pumpkin, squashes, spinach, kale, tomatoes).
It's important to combine lutein, carotenoids and vitamin A with fat like butter or olive oil, so our bodies can absorb the benefits.
Zinc: oysters, shellfish in general, meat/poultry, beans/peas, nuts/seeds, egg yolks, whole grains, cheese. Veg(etari)ans: see [1].
Vitamin C: we all know where they are: in fruit and veg, especially when eaten raw. 
Vitamin E: in seeds/(pea)nuts, dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, plant oils, (shell)fish, pumpkin, avocado. 
B-vitamins: B2 deficiency can lead to dimmed vision and red, itchy, burning eyes. In meat, cheese, almonds, mushrooms, spinach, marmite/brewer’s yeast, eggs, milk. This vitamin is damaged by light.
Vitamin B6 can prevent macular degeneration when taken with B12. It also improves absorption of magnesium, which helps production of tears. In seeds, nuts/seeds, fish, poultry/meat, dried fruit, capsicum, spinach, broccoli, marmite/brewer’s yeast, whole grains, beans/peas, potatoes in their skins. 
Vitamin B12 lessens our chance of getting macular degeneration, when taken with B6. It also prevents glaucoma. In (shell)fish, liver, beef/poultry, marmite/brewer’s yeast, milk/yoghurt and eggs.
Omega 3: in oily fish (sardines, mackerel, herring), walnuts, flax seed/oil and egg yolks. Brussels, kale, spinach, pumpkin, broccoli and watercress also have some, but in a less useful form.
See also [2].

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION doesn’t help our eyesight at all. It drains our stores of critical vitamins and nutrients, like the above mentioned vitamin A and zinc. It also depletes supplies of B-complex vitamins: this can harm the liver [3], which converts beta-carotene into this vitamin A. Dry or red eyes are only a minor effect [6]. Much worse is that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. See [4].

MACULAR DEGENERATION develops when the part of the eye responsible for central vision stops functioning properly. Reading becomes difficult, colours less vibrant and faces are hard to recognise. It is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over 60, which is why they often speak of AMD, age-related macular degeneration.
There are two forms, the wet and the dry, the latter being most common. There is no treatment for the dry form, but a lot can be done with the proper food and supplements. The wet form cannot be cured, only slowed down, mainly with injections [5]

Very important, and not commonly known, is the damage done by so-called blue light. This is light with wavelengths shorter than 480 nanometer. It is harmful because it can penetrate all the way to the back of the eye, bypassing the eye’s natural filters. Blue light is not new, but the amount of exposure we get, through digital devices and energy-saving lights has grown enormously. Artificial sources include smart phones, tablets, computers, Mp3 players and TV’s; also CFL’s, LEDs or halogen, the so-called energy-efficient lightbulbs. The effects of these are cumulative, and macular degeneration can be the result [6].
Fortunately we can protect ourselves by wearing so-called blue-blockers, glasses (often fit-over ones) which block the harmful rays [7].
PS It’s interesting to read what we are supposed to go through when one of those supposedly eco-friendly bulbs breaks - see [8]!

Risk factors for cataracts are: a history of the condition in the family; smoking; over-exposure to UV rays; regularly drinking too much alcohol; diabetes; eye surgery; corticosteroid medication or a high intake of refined sugar.
When in the first stages of cataract formation, it is relatively easy to slow or stop the process. You can of course wait till they get worse, but a cataract operation, though common, is still an operation. And while most patients get good results, a small percentage are left worse off. And did you know that up to 3% of those who have had cataract surgery will in future develop a detached retina?
If you decide to try and do something yourself to protect your eyesight, remember that this will benefit the rest of your body as well.
So what can you do at this moment?
In the first place, follow the above advise about food. Lutein and zeaxanthin; vitamin B1, B2, C and vitamin E are excellent. Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful anti-oxidant - in organ meats and spinach. Supplements never work so well, and have their drawbacks. Glutathione, another strong antioxidant, is produced in our body. Production is boosted by eating: asparagus, broccoli, avocado, spinach, garlic, grapefruit, squash, potatoes, courgettes, watermelon, strawberries, meat, eggs, brazils, seafood, and sunflower seeds. 
The herbs bilberry and gingko also help. And see [9].

All sites seem to agree that regular mild exercise is important to prevent glaucoma, and so is diet, see above. Smoking, caffeine and white sugar are out again, I’m afraid. For details see [10].

And here are some suggestions of natural remedies you can try for minor complaints.

There are various types of eye infections you can get: blepharitis, styes, red eye/conjunctivitis, pink eye, dry eyes etc. For useful sites, see [11].

Keep your eyes in constant movement. Roll your eyes upwards, downwards, sideways and in circular motions for a few minutes at regular intervals [12]. And, apparently, the brain ignores floaters faster if you gaze at the moon for just five minutes every night. Easily said ….
DRY EYES - see [13].
PUFFY EYES - see [14].
YELLOW EYES - see [15].
UNDER EYE BAGS - see [17].
EYESTRAIN - see [18].
STYES - see [19].
TWITCH - see [21].

And did you know that rubbing your eyes is bad for them? Personally, when they itch, I massage the corners with saliva .... Just bathing them in cold water also helps [22].


direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, salsify/scorzonera, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, (sugar) peas. If pea moth's a problem, wait till mid May.
in seedbed to transplant: leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale.
in traysbeans, courgettes, cucumbers, melon, pumpkins, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes.
plant out: cauli; cucumbers, marrows, pumpkins, tomatoes, squashes late May.
Green manure: if you have space, do it now. See www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/soil_growgreenmanure1.shtml.

veg: spring greens, cabbage, spinach, chard, cauli, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, seakale.
herbs: chives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
wild food: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet, sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket, samphire.
game: wood pigeon, lamb, mutton, guinea fowl, rabbit, duck.
fish: bib/pouting, flounder, herring, pollack/lythe, red gurnard, whelk, Northern prawn, squid, British crayfish, lobster, (brown) crab.



PASTA DIFFERENT for 1 to ???
Lots of shredded greens like cabbage, (frozen) peas, pasta, easy-to-cook meat like mince, sausage or bacon; basil, (cream cheese), spices, seasoning.
Prepare the vegetables, and heat slightly salted water. When it boils, throw in the pasta and veg, which should take roughly the same time to cook. If the peas are frozen, add them a bit later. If you use sausages or bacon, cut in ab. 2.5cm pieces and fry.
When the veg-pasta mix is done, pour off the water (good for soup!) and add the mix to the frying meat. Stir; season; add basil and spice it up, chilli is good. Also, or instead of the meat, mix in some cream cheese if you like and make sure it melts.

For the flavour base: 
3 tblsp cooking oil, 1 large diced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tblsp curry powder, 1 tsp allspice powder, 1 tsp nutmeg powder or 1/2 tsp freshly grated, 1 1/2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp dried thyme leaves/3 tsp fresh, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp black.
For the curry:
360ml potatoes cut in 1.2 centimeter cubes, 2x400-gram drained tins chickpeas (keep the water), 400-gram tin of diced tomatoes, 480ml (chickpea) water, 2 sliced shallots, chopped parsley, salt.
Heat the oil, add the first lot of ingredients and cook for 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Then add the potatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. If the spices start to stick to the bottom, put in a tiny splash of water. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and the liquid. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened. Adjust salt. Stir in the shallots and parsley. Serve with rice, or add just a little bit more potatoes for a full meal. 

FISH CAKES,  4 patties
1 tin (ab 112g) mackerel,  ab. 120ml cold mashed potatoes, small minced onion, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1 small egg, beaten, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, flour, oil.
Sauté the onion till soft but not burned. Take out of the pan and mix with fish, mash, egg, lemon juice and seasoning. Shape into patties. Dredge in flour, fry about 10 minutes or until brown, turn once. Drain well.

Dried spaghetti for 4, 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle, 8 chopped anchovy fillets, 3 chopped garlic cloves, chilli flakes/powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 400g can chopped tomatoes, large handful black olives, 1 tbsp roughly chopped capers, (large handful fresh basil).
Cook the pasta al dente. Heat the oil, throw in the anchovies and sizzle for 2 minutes until they’ve broken down. Add garlic, chilli and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, increase the heat and bubble for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in olives and capers. Drain the pasta, leaving a bit of water coating the strands, then tip into the sauce. Stir, add some olive oil and mix while heating it thoroughly. Serve straight away with fresh basil if you have any.

For more recipes see May issues from former years - click on May 2018 on the right hand side. Or go to https://thoughtforfoodaw.wordpress.com, which still has eight recipes for this year. 
We also have an alphabetical index of subjects, which you will see if you click on 2018 > May, in the top right hand corner.

Next month: did you know?
To see this now, go to https://thoughtforfoodaw.wordpress.com and scroll down.

[7] In 2007 I was diagnosed with dry macular degeneration - the form which is supposedly incurable. The optician told me it was good to eat kale, which inspired me to do some more research. This is when I found that important nutrients to fight MD are lutein, vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc (and if you take lots of zinc you should take copper as well). 
Lutein, as well as many other nutrients, is abundantly in kale. In general, dark leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables are excellent. Kale and marigold tea have been my standby ever since. I bought blublocker glasses and still use them when watching the computer, the tv and 
in a car when faced with unpleasant headlights. Online you can get blueblockers to wrap around your prescription glasses from £40 at www.optimalowvision.co.uk. Click on anti-glare spectacles and make sure you choose one with blue-blocking filter. Or order ‘wraparound fitovers’ via Robert Frith (www.frithsopticians.co.uk) opticians in Devon or Somerset.
I managed to get rid of my macular degeneration entirely by these means, plus some acupuncture treatments. You might not be so lucky, but you certainly can do a lot yourself to prevent it getting worse. 
[22] http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2012/09/18/3592456.htm

alphabetical index of subjects

alcohol                       Dec 17:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/december-2017-drink.html                 
                                  Dec 14:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/december-2014-drink-drank-drunk.html
antibiotics                  Sep 15:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/september-2015-antibiotics.html
                                  Apr 17:      https://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/april-2017-biotics-pro-or-anti-pre-or.html
arthritis                      Apr 14:      http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/april-2014-arthritis.html
brain food                  May 13:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/may-2013-brain-food.html
bread                         May 10:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/may-2010-slow-down-your-bread_30.html
                                  Oct 16:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-2016-bread.html
breakfast                   Jul 10:      http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/july-2010-breakfast.html
                                  Aug 12:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/august-2012-breakfast-cereals.html
butter                         Feb 12:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/february-2012-joys-of-butter.html
                            Apr 10:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/april-2010-tub-spreads-or-butter.html
calories                      Jan 12:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/january-2012-calories.html
chocolate                  Jun 13:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/june-2013-chocolate.html
cholesterol                Nov 13:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/november-2013-in-praise-of-cholesterol.html
                                 Apr 11:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/april-2011-cholesterol-eggs.html                         
                                 Mar 10:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/march-2010-cholesterol.html                                       
coughs                     Nov 14:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/november-2014-throats.html
cravings                   Jun 12:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/june-2012-cravings.html
dairy                         Oct 17:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-2017-please-have-your-dairy_1.html
death                        Feb 17:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/february-2017-death.html
diarrhoea                 Aug 15:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/august-2015-diarrhoea.html
diet                         Jan 15:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/january-2015-dieting-dangerous.html
                               Jul 11:       http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/july-2011-diet.html
                                Jan 15:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/january-2015-dieting-dangerous.html
drink                        Dec 17:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/december-2017-drink.html
                                Dec 14:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/december-2014-drink-drank-drunk.html 
eggs                        Jan 17:      http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/january-2017-eggs-is-eggs.html
eyesight                   May 18:   http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/may-2018-our-precious-eyesight.html
fast food                  July 18:    https://thoughtforfoodaw.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/july-2018-fast-food/
fat                            Nov 13:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/november-2013-in-praise-of-cholesterol.html
                                Jun 10:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/june-2010-fat-is-bad.html 
faeces                     Sep 17:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/september-2017-number-two.html
fever                        Dec 15:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/december-2015-fever.html
fish                          April 18:   http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/april-2018-fish-forever.html
                               Jul 12:      http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/july-2012-to-fish-or-not-to-be.html
insomnia                  Apr 15:   http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/april-2015-insomnia.html  
milk                          Oct 17:   http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-2017-please-have-your-dairy_1.html
                                Sep 11:  http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/september-2011-milk.html
salt                         Oct 15:   http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-2015-salt-ii.html
                               Oct 11:   http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-2011-salt-1.html
soy                         Aug 13:  http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/august-2013-soy.html
stress                     Jul 14:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/july-2014-just-relax.html
sugar                     May 17:   http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/may-2017-sugar-slavery.html                     
                              Jun 15:    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/june-2015-sugar.html
                              Jul 13:     http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/july-2013-sugar.html
throat                      Nov 14:  http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/november-2014-throats.html
vitamins                  Mar 13:  http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/march-2013-vitamins.html